haruka nakamura – ‘あくる日’

haruka nakamura

 

HEY GUYS I’M BACK!

Okay, kind of, I’m probably going to irregularly update jo’s musings as the mood strikes. Between writing for LYFSTYL and now Cassette Rewind I’m now writing non-stop and gotta keep up with other deadlines. Putting that aside, I still love you cute readers so I’ll regale you with a post (if any of you are even reading this anymore).

I celebrated my 24th birthday this week making me nervous to approach my mid-20s as evidenced by how much fried chicken I’ve consumed (three days in a row of gluttony). In celebration, I watched the re-boot of Sailor Moon, played lots of Assassin’s Creed Unity, and listened to Moderat and Jon Hopkins on repeat. Glorious times. Now, before I go and indulge in numerous libations with pals, I wanted to drop this little beaut from Haruka Nakamura which I’ve bumped for the last month.

His beautiful ambient track, ‘あくる日’ (pronounced a-ku-ru-hi) translates to ‘the next day’ and he nails the essence of early dawn. It’s a subtle track, opening with a distant ocean and birds sprinkled with gentle piano chords. The song is befit with sweet nostalgia that tugs your soul. There are no drums nor a straightforward beat to follow though some chanting vocals pop in towards the second half of the track. Absolute stunner from Haruka Nakamura who’s been on a roll with music so keep your eyes and ears out for more greatness.

As always, thank you for reading jo’s musings and I’ll make sure to grace your screens again soon.

– jo.

an extended hiatus

Hello beautiful readers,

As you may have noticed (or not, because of inactivity), I haven’t updated this blog in a very long time. Almost eight months to be exact. No, it is not because I stopped listening to music (what am I, a banana?) but I am now a staff writer over at LYFSTYL. Since I’ve turned my attention to writing for that site, I sadly shirked my duties here.

I plan to start writing again for jos musings, since it’s like the child I’ve never had, and because of all the support you readers have given me over the last year. Without you, I wouldn’t even be writing for LYFSTYL.

So, my sincerest apologies once again, and I promise I will be back gracing your lovely screens soon.

-jo.

P.S. I do think bananas are delicious and I’m sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings, especially to the banana boat guy.

Wait, that’s just a boat, never mind.

giraffage – ‘computer city’

As hard as it may be to believe, the Chicagoland area is experiencing a thunderstorm at the end of January. Luckily, it’s going to freeze over by Thursday so that’s going to make the walk to classes entertaining. Well, hopefully for me and not any passerby who come across my face planted in the cement.

With the album releases coming our way this year, as well as some already out, there’s quite a lot to look forward to. Nosaj Thing dropped his sophomore LP, Home, after a four year hiatus from his debut album which is beset with rich and thoughtful production. Do nab it if you hadn’t already.

We also have impending releases coming our way from Danny Brown, Baths, Mister Lies, and the San Francisco producer, Giraffage.

Giraffage came on my radar back in 2011, when he released his LP, Comfort, and claimed my heart from that day forward. It’s one of the happiest albums I’ve ever listened to, glistening with warm synths, dream-pop melodies, and a hint of nostalgic romance. In 2012 he went on a European tour with XXYYXX and since then has signed a record deal with Alpha Pup Records and is even going to be opening for Nosaj Thing at his show at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco on 2.21.2013. If you’re in the area, try to get out there, it’s going to be a killer show.

Last week, Giraffage posted a remix of an old school Perfume track called ‘Computer City.’ Now, if you’re not aware of Perfume, they are a trio of girls from Hiroshima who dominate the JPop world with their success lying with electro-producer wizard, Nakata Yasutaka. He’s also the genius behind Capsule and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and heads both the mainstream J-Pop scene as well as the underground, grittier DJ sects of Tokyo. Nakata is known for his complex synthesizers, extremely auto-tuned vocals lent by his female vocalists, with an impeccable balance between warm melodies, heavy dance-hitters, and even the occasional ballad. He’s one of my idols in electronic production really only tying with Nujabes.

The remix begins with the vocals, which are distorted, toned down, and taken a lot slower than the original ones sung by Perfume. Giraffage made them take on this melancholic quality to it, which is exemplified through the multitude of synths he has layered and a subdued bass line. The break beats add a distinctly Giraffage texture to the song, and the waves he takes you on makes for some of the best walking music of the year. He takes the insanely catchy hook from the original song in the vocals and makes it his own which is what stands out the most. Despite the lyrics being in Japanese, it’s never thrown in your face which makes it easy to listen to for any fan.

The only major qualm I have with the song is the mix down which is jarringly different from the rest of the track. それより, この歌はかんぺきです。

This remix is up for free download on his SoundCloud page. Additionally, if you click the link in the picture you’ll be taken to Giraffage’s Bandcamp page which actually has his Comfort LP available for free download via name your price. I’d donate a bit to the kid, though, to further his funds for music making capabilities.

-jo.

lasers – ‘bird feeder’

Now that it’s mid-January, the Chicagoland area is finally experiencing frigid winter weather. Everyone is donning their long coats, Ugg boots (gross), and general wind-whipped, red faces. Much to the surprise and subsequent dismay of my friends, I happen to relish this temperature change. Going on walks and staring up at the night sky accompanied by music is all-consuming. Fewer people are out and there’s an impenetrable stillness to the air. I am so truly alone in those moments and yet more alive than any other time of the year.

Even though we’re just a few weeks into 2013, I’m already working thrice as hard in diversifying my music collection with the help of a best friend of mine. Saying he’s well versed in music is one of the gravest understatements I could ever make. His background is in hip-hop, but he spends every night, with the help of his insomnia, listening to music across at least thirty genres and combs through catacombs of the internet in the pursuit of gems.

With his encouragement, he has been revitalizing my efforts in pursuing music production and in doing some serious hunting for new tunes.

The other day, a Spanish trio hailing from Barcelona dubbed Lasers (not to be confused with the Portuguese producer Lasers I posted about earlier), who blend pop, electronica, and elements of house to create a truly organic sound, released a single from their upcoming album called ‘Bird Feeder.’

It opens with poppy synths, snaps, and a layering of more grooves and jives. Once the punchy bass line gets going all bets are off. It’s a sexy tune, one I could easily envision opening a set at a club. The pulse intensifies and draws listeners into a dance mood. It’s reminiscent of late 80’s electronic tunes, with the layering synths and vocals leading the way. The change in aesthetic around 2:50 adds more depth to the song and lets up from the drive the track set up in the beginning. It resolves, though, with the final drums and bass line getting people back into dancing. It reminds me of M83 stylistically though not quite as, well, French.

I look forward to the album, “Exchange Levels,” which is set to drop on April 15th.

For reference, here are two other songs by Lasers that put them on the radar for me:

Winter is coming,

-jo.

speakmansound – make days make brothers EP

It’s been two months since I’ve last written a blog post which is pretty bad for a music-dedicated site. This past semester has been hectic, with the last month being a complete blur of papers, projects, Japanese presentations, and book reports. This, however, doesn’t prove to be a viable excuse seeing as this blog is one of the few things that makes me feel fulfillment and happiness, so I’ve really got to work on this whole time management concept people have been telling me about.

In case you were wondering, no, I will not make that a New Year’s resolution because I don’t believe in that load of garbage. I always strive to improve myself every day, so I don’t see the need to set these huge, possibly unattainable goals at the beginning of the year. There are so many curve balls thrown at you in the course of 365 days so it’s better to adapt to change rather than force it. Some people, though, really need the start of a new year to motivate themselves, so if they can keep to it, then by all means, どうぞ。

I’ve been meaning to write on this EP I stumbled upon via Eton Messywhom I follow for a lot of UK garage, 2-step, and chill tracks, called Make Days Make Brothers by SpeakmanSound. They make up a pair of brothers, Todd and Guy Speakman, who write and produce for the pure pleasure of it, attempting to create music which successfully cross-genres, and also partake in sound design for friends and movie pieces (from what I’ve seen). Make Days Make Brothers also happens to be their debut EP and hot damn, is it impressive.

 

1. Survive This and Dance

This is probably one of my favorite songs of 2012. It opens with a heavy, yet minimalistic bass line interspersed with hi-hats in the background and gradual samplings of vocals. There’s a break with some xylophone sounds then the drop into an all-consuming, sexy, and dance-heavy melody. You can hear that the brothers use an actual drum kit, bass, and MIDI gear to create the sounds. With a sampled voice saying “get down” throughout the song it’s nigh impossible to stop yourself from dancing to this track. Hands down a gorgeous, well-produced electronic song.

2. Finding Will

With such a strong opening the brothers introduced to us with “Survive This and Dance,” they take it down a notch with “Finding Will.” This too has a strong bass line with a similar melodic buildup to STAD. It’s a subtle song, continuing with the somewhat dark, ominous mood the first track brings out. There are actual vocals to the song though they are indiscernible but really enhance the overall effect of the production. It definitely holds its own in the EP.

3. For Days Spent

I’ve listened to this song the least on the EP but it’s not out of disliking it. For the flow of the EP and setting the mood, this song is perfect in production, placement, and aesthetic. There’s a driving, punchy bass line, quiet hi-hats, shakers, and a layering of synths that makes for a hauntingly beautiful song. It’s a reflective piece, suiting the overall sentiment of ending a year and beginning anew. I tend to listen to sadder, more nostalgic songs to reflect on how my past year has gone, and this is a fantastic candidate for that thought-process to fully develop. I’m actually tearing up listening to this as I write this post.

What, I get emotionally invested in music, stop giving me that look.

This EP is probably going to be in my playlists for much of the next year even though I’ve been obsessed for four months already. Keeping my eye on these guys for all of their upcoming releases.

As an aside, when I was finishing this post I noticed Felix Cartal post his 2012 reflection blog entry and apparently we share the same feelings on New Year’s resolutions. Kudos to him. You can peep that post here. He’s a solid writer (majored in English, if I recall correctly) and had an impressive year for himself.

Happy New Year everyone!

-jo.

different sleep – infinite EP

My second to last semester of being an undergraduate student is coming to a close and I find that I keep hitting inanimate objects in a futile attempt to understand where the hell time has gone. As I direct my weekly panic attacks about the future to my parents, I can’t help but reflect on what I have accomplished, and what time I’ve wasted in being a directionless twenty-something.

While it doesn’t solve anything to harp on the past and debate the woulda-coulda-shoulda’s, as a senior I’m finally recognizing all the annoying advice my parents gave me as kid as something I should have actively followed. I’m a second generation Indian which should, theoretically speaking, make me a doctor, lawyer, astronaut, mathematician, or Indian breeding machine. Alas, I fear I have eternally disappointed my parents in pursuing music, baking, and a general distaste (i.e. lack of talent) in the sciences.

I COULD PROVE THE AMERICAN DREAM CAN COME TRUE, IF I BELIEVE.

Okay, enough shouting, my shift pinky hurts. Let’s bring in the latest EP by Different Sleep aptly named, Infinite. I’ve been very behind in writing this blog post due to school and life obligations, so please accept my sincerest apologies.

FIRST LISTEN

1. Be My Center

We open with one of my favorite Different Sleep releases from June which I dedicated an entire blog post to months ago. You can read that here. More on how I feel the song works in context with the rest of the EP later.

2. Infinite

We now have the title track to the EP and the first six seconds remind me of Baths production style, though less minimalist. It has rolls and waves sprinkled throughout the song making it an alternative song in a soundtrack for Ponyo. It has this twisting buildup and breaks into a very ‘old school’ Different Sleep production style. The sampling is on point with other artists on the Svengali label which is what draws me to their music to begin with. I can’t get enough of this song, it’s a stunner and makes me tear up thinking about memories of the past.

Also, I finally figured out what this song reminded me of – Taragana Pyjarama’s song, ‘Ocean.’ If you haven’t heard it already a link to it on YouTube can be found at the end of the post.

3. 2013

From the start it has an upbeat melody and boppy synths which leads to a lot of furious head nodding. The buildup in the first minute is so well executed. Different Sleep proves to be a very capable, diverse producer because this is a DANCE TRACK. It’s got a very Euro feel to it and is catchy as f**k. I’m freaking out so hard in my apartment right now because this EP is continuing to throw surprises. #@*($&#)@*( already building the perfect set for a sexy dance party with this track as one of the spotlight songs.

4. Make It Real

 The song starts off with a very dreamy quality to it. Coming off the energy-driven ‘2013,’ this adds for a nice transition into a dream of wandering through a forest on that horse from The NeverEnding Story. Straying awake from the darker tones the previous song introduces us, the synths and echoing vocals adds for a very sweet sound. It has a smooth beat which further adds to a dreamworld I never want to leave which is highlighted by the sounds of footsteps at the end of the track which makes it the perfect close to a phenomenal EP.

SAS

Both in and out of context, this EP absolutely nails it. Really loving all of the releases Svengali has put out on their label with a lot of Chicago artists being repped hard. It gives me insurmountable amounts of joy to have such mind-blowing music come out of this city because it’s been a part of my heart for over two decades now.

The EP is up for free download off the Svengali bandcamp page with a link to it in the picture above. DOWNLOAD IT. LOVE IT. SPREAD THE WORD.

As mentioned above, here’s Taragana Pyjarama’s song ‘Ocean.’

-jo.

groundislava – suicide mission ft. baths

We’re nearing the end of the year, and I have to say, some of the collaborations this year has put out has blown my mind away. “Money Makin'” with Dillon Francis and A-Trak; the producer trio Hoodcats (shortcircles and James & Evander); Felix Cartal and K.Flay dropping beats in “Rest Your Mind”; Different Sleep and Mister Lies teaming up for their glorious Mass EP; and so many other have made this a compelling and musically rich year. This is the best time for producers from around the globe to get together and push boundaries in genre blending and putting out experimental music, since listeners are craving for diversity.

Such a fantastic time we live in, seriously.

The other day, Groundislava released his music video for the collaboration he did with Baths (one of my all-time favorite producers) to the tune “Suicide Mission.”

It opens with echoing vocals and a lo-fi drum beat which breaks into Baths distinctive singing style. “Suicide Mission” is an ethereal, spacey song that makes me want to watch videos of the Milky Way and drift through universe. The video game bleeps throughout the track add to the sci-fi vibe Groundislava and Baths have going on in the song. The accompanying music video makes little sense to me, but it fits the atmosphere of the track perfectly. This is probably one of the better collaborations of the year and it makes me want to hear more tracks with the two of them working together. Excellent production and almost comical video style but it works perfectly for Baths and Groundislava.

-jo.